Category: Alumni

Give Back to the Pack Today!

Give Back to the Pack kicks off today at noon and will run until tomorrow (April 11) at noon! For those 24 hours, our entire Michigan Tech community, including alumni, friends, faculty, staff and families, will come together in a collective celebration of philanthropy.

As we embark on this 24-hour giving challenge, we invite you to join us in making a difference. Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Make a Gift: Visit the Give Back to the Pack website to make a contribution to the area of your choosing and help us reach our goals.
  2. Spread the Word: Share your participation in Give Back to the Pack on social media and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to join the cause.
  3. Engage with Challenges: Explore the various challenges and matches available on the Give Back to the Pack website and consider participating to maximize your impact.

This year, three College of Engineering giving matches are generously offered by our alumni and friends:

For every dollar donated to Chemical Sciences and Engineering Building Renovations, The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation will match it, up to $2 million, funding renovations to the Chemical Sciences and Engineering (Chem Sci) Building.

Every 50 donations to the ME-EM department will unlock a $50,000 gift from our anonymous donor, up to $150,000, to support 3D Metal printing experiential learning programs.

SPIE, the international optics and photonics society, will match every contribution to the Optics and Photonics Endowed Scholarship Fund, up to $100,000. Scholarship funds support undergraduate students studying electrical and computer engineering.

Support the people, places and programs that mean the most to you. Here’s how to make a gift within the College of Engineering.

Every gift, regardless of size, contributes to our shared goal of supporting the areas of Michigan Tech that matter most to each of us.

Thank you for supporting Michigan Tech. Together we can make a great impact for our University!

We Need You: Serve as a Judge During Michigan Tech’s 2024 Design Expo

Design Expo at Michigan Tech is now in its 24th year. Save the date: Tuesday, April 16, 2024!

Want to support students as they engage in hands-on, discovery-based learning? Volunteer to serve as a distinguished judge at Michigan Tech’s 2024 Design Expo!

More than 1,000 students in Enterprise, Senior Design, and other Student Project teams will showcase their work and compete for awards at the 2024 Design Expo on Tuesday, April 16 from 10 am to 2 pm. The annual event will be held on campus in two locations: the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, and the Memorial Union Ballroom.

Sign up here to serve as a Judge
at 2024 Design Expo

Who Should Judge?

  • Industry Representatives
  • Community Members
  • Alumni
  • MTU Faculty and Staff
  • Educators
Members of the Open Source Hardware Enterprise team display their projects at Design Expo. Whether a judge or simply a guest, your involvement in Design Expo is greatly valued by our students!

Duties of a Design Expo Judge:

  1. Attend Design Expo for about an hour, sometime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 16, 2024, to visit assigned teams.
  2. Review and score assigned team videos via RocketJudge, an online platform prior to the start of Design Expo.
  3. Score 3-5 teams throughout the judging period. 

Prior to the event on April 16, judges will gain access to a digital gallery of student-created project videos to preview online. In-person judging on the day of the event usually takes about an hour, depending on the number of volunteers.

Industry Partners and Sponsors

Design Expo 2024 is generously supported by industry and University sponsorship, including over 100 project and program supporters who make a strategic investment in our educational mission at Michigan Tech. The event is hosted by Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program along with the College of Engineering.

ITC Holdings has served as a Design Expo partner for 12 consecutive years, last year joined by event partners Thompson Surgical Instruments, Aramco, Plexus, OHM Advisors, Altec Inc., and Husky Innovate. For all sponsorship opportunities, contact Len Switzer.

“We thank our industry and government sponsors who have made a strategic investment in our educational mission.”

Nagesh Hatti, Director, The Enterprise Program and Chair, Enterprise Governing Board
Learn all about Design Expo, at mtu.edu/expo

Winter Carnival 2024: Join us at the College of Engineering Alumni Social

students work on large snow statues at night with snowflakes flying
The next Michigan Tech Winter Carnival will take place February 7-10, 2024

Engineering Alumni Social
Saturday, February 10, from 2–4 pm
The Dog House in Houghton

Will you be in town for Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival this year? Join us on Saturday, February 10, from 2–4 pm at the Dog House in downtown Houghton, located at 517 Shelden Avenue. We’ll swap stories, share good food, and learn about opportunities to support our people, programs and places. Hope to see you there!

Michigan Tech Students Attend IAAPA Expo in Orlando

students wearing expo name badges standing arm in arm, with arcade games in the background
Student members of the Theme Park Engineering Group at Michigan Tech attended the IAAPA Expo in Orlando this past November.

Last month, seven Michigan Tech students left campus in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, November 11th. With travel funding and support from industry leader LAI Games, an award-winning arcade producer, they set off on a 1,500 mile journey to attend the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Mechanical engineering students Jason Rogers, Cameron Whiteside, Katie Morin, Julian Arens, Jackson Arens, and Joaquin Sibug, and Materials Science and Engineering student Aaron Boonstra, spent the full week of November 13th-17th attending educational sessions, networking with industry professionals, and exploring the vast trade show floor.

The trade show floor with lots of exhibitor booths
Hundreds of companies were in attendance at this year’s IAAPA Expo.

All are members of the Theme Park Engineering Group (TPEG) at Michigan Tech, which aims to promote the education and appreciation of the themed entertainment industry on campus. The group looks behind the scenes of the industry, in order to get to know the design, engineering, and technology behind some of the world’s most thrilling attractions. TPEG is advised by Kent Cyr, assistant professor in Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Hundreds of companies representing every facet of the themed entertainment industry demonstrated that nearly every discipline of engineering had opportunities within this exciting industry. From material scientists discussing new compounds for roller coaster wheels, to mechanical engineers in awe at state-of-the-art animatronic figures, every member of the Group found something that inspired them.

Industry leader LAI Games sponsored the group and covered the cost of attendance to the Expo. The global company was founded over 60 years ago, and has its headquarters in The Colony, Texas and Singapore. LAI develops, manufactures, and sells coin and card operated prize merchandising games, as well as ticket redemption, video, and novelty games.

“There truly is something for everyone in this industry,” says Cameron Whiteside, fifth-year mechanical engineering student, and Secretary of TPEG at Michigan Tech. “Whether you’re a mechanical engineering student, or a computer science student, business major, theater technology major, artist, journalist, whatever your discipline—there is absolutely a company that utilizes your skills in themed entertainment.”

Four students stand in front of the IAAPA Expo sign at the entrance.
The IAAPA Expo is an exciting event for all students in the themed entertainment industry!

Several members spent the week speaking directly with company representatives and industry professionals, showcasing the unique set of skills and knowledge only Michigan Tech students can demonstrate. Some students even mentioned possible internship and full-time job opportunities.

In addition to the new professional connections made throughout the week, some students were returning to the Expo, having attended the previous year. They were able to reconvene with contacts they’d made at prior events, catching up on their latest projects and developments—both industry professionals and other students from theme park groups at other universities from around the world.

“In a few short years, these people will be our co-workers,” notes Whiteside. “It’s important to maintain connections with everyone you meet at these events, because you’re bound to run into them again at some point.”

TPEG at Michigan Tech thanks LAI Games. “Without their invaluable support, several members of TPEG would have been unable to attend.”

Several recent graduates, including Ryan Briggs (BS Computer Engineering, ’23), are already actively working on some of the most groundbreaking projects in themed entertainment at TAIT, notes Whiteside.

The students were also able to meet with MTU alumni who have found their way into the industry over the years. Some alumni have been leading the industry for decades, like Korey Kiepert (BS ’97, MS ’99, Mechanical Engineering) who went on to co-found The Gravity Group, LLC.

“Our group started out as a few students looking at videos of new attractions on the other side of the world,” he adds. “Now we have alumni of TPEG working alongside the actual designers of those same rides. It’s honestly pretty amazing. I look forward to seeing what current members can do for the industry in the coming years.”

Whiteside will be graduating in December with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Technical Theater.

“TPEG would like to thank LAI Games for sponsoring the group and covering the cost of attendance to the Expo.

Michigan Tech Professor Adrienne Minerick Inducted to ASEE Hall of Fame

Adrienne Minerick, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech Professor Adrienne Minerick was recently inducted into the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Hall of Fame, one of its highest honors.

Twenty-two individuals and three teams were inducted in celebration of the Society’s 130th year. The award recognizes engineering and engineering technology education standouts whose work has made a significant impact. 

“It is humbling and a huge honor to be listed with so many ‘greats’ who have had such a lasting impact on the engineering education field,” Minerick said. “Many are my heroes and mentors.”

For Minerick, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, the honor recognizes her many efforts to infuse Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) into all of her leadership roles. She is also a past president of ASEE, and serves as PI and Director of the ADVANCE Initiative at Michigan Tech. ADVANCE, funded by the National Science Foundation, is dedicated to promoting faculty retention, career success, and STEM equity with an emphasis on advancing underrepresented individuals with intersectional identities.

Congratulations to all ASEE 2023 Hall of Fame inductees.

For more than a century, ASEE has been proud to support the engineering educators whose work has modernized society. That includes Jenna Carpenter, the immediate past president of ASEE, and dean of Campbell University School of Engineering. Carpenter was also inducted into the ASEE Hall of Fame alongside Minerick. She also nominated Minerick for the honor.

“Dr. Minerick’s national-level service to and leadership of ASEE and the chemical engineering profession have been outstanding,” she said. “Our hope would be that the work of Dr. Minerick and the other honorees will continue to make a positive impact, and serve as a platform for those coming behind us to reach even greater heights.”

The ASEE Hall of Fame inductees’ areas of influence are broad, with expertise in pedagogy, broadening participation, research, leadership and service, entrepreneurship, and more. Read the full list here.

“It takes a variety of ideas, creativity and experiences to achieve very unique and valuable problem-solving.”

Adrienne Minerick

Minerick first joined ASEE in 2003, as a new faculty member at Mississippi State University.

“Because ASEE provided a support network for my professional growth, I volunteered in many areas and eventually became a delegate to the newly formed ASEE diversity committee,” says Minerick. She progressed to vice chair and then chair of the committee in 2014-2015. 

Year of Action

“The committee first petitioned the board to approve, and then hosted ASEE’s Year of Action on Diversity. At the annual conference in 2014, we gave out rainbow ribbons and had footstep decals on display all throughout the conference venue educating attendees on DEIS issues,” Minerick recalls.

The Best DEI Paper was envisioned, approved by the board, and integrated into ASEE practices during the Year of Action, as well.

“Before that time, diversity content and conversations were peripheral to ASEE, but after the Year of Action, DEIS became integrated into nearly every division of ASEE, including a dedicated section on bylaws and programming,” she says.

During her term as ASEE president Minerick says one of her most meaningful and rewarding efforts was helping to promote a next-generation effort—the ASEE Year of Impact on Racial Equity—established by the ASEE Commission on Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

“ASEE is the place where engineering and engineering technology educators plan for the futures our students will encounter,” said Minerick. “It’s extremely important that everyone in the realm of engineering feels valued, heard and included—they’re going to be more productive in generating the highest quality outputs.”

“It takes a variety of ideas, creativity and experiences to achieve very unique and valuable problem-solving. When everyone is valued at the table, end solutions are much more impactful and tied to society than they would be otherwise.”

In addition to this recognition from ASEE, Adrienne was awarded the AES Electrophoresis Society Lifetime Achievement Award in October 2022 and was recently elected Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (2023).

“Each of us are stewards of our engineering climate,” she adds. “It requires deliberate effort to create an environment where each and every student feels welcome and appreciated for their unique skills and talents, gained from lived experiences.”

Aurora White ’16 Named AISES 2023 Most Promising Engineer

Aurora White

by Joan Chadde, Center for Science and Environmental Outreach

Alumna Aurora White has been selected by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) as the 2023 Most Promising Engineer. White earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2016.

The professional award was presented at the 2023 AISES National Conference, held Oct. 19-21 in Spokane, Washington.

White, a torque calibration security engineer for Stellantis, is an active member of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. She earned her MS in Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University (OU) in Rochester, Michigan.

In her award description, AISES award committee describes White’s many accomplishments: “Aurora White loves hands-on work, whether it’s being in a vehicle as a calibration engineer or building furniture at her mom’s house.

“I am deeply humbled by this honor from AISES,” said White. “Ever since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed building and fixing things, which eventually led to my career choice in engineering. I am also especially passionate about my culture, and I hope my achievements might help inspire younger members of the indigenous community to pursue a future in STEM fields and make the world a better place through their work.”

“It means the world to me when I hear from younger students that I am a role model or someone that they look up to,” said White. “I want to make the 7-year-old me proud that I had big dreams for the future.”

White works for Stellantis N.V., a multinational automotive company and mobility provider that includes Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Fiat brands. White has worked in a variety of engineering roles, including instrumentation and diagnostics. She has received numerous awards for leading projects in vehicle testing and analysis. She has earned Design for Six Sigma Green Belt certification, and was selected for a new Stellantis leadership development program in 2022. White now serves on that program’s board, while serving as treasurer for the Indigenous Cultural Opportunity Network, a Stellantis business resource group.”

“I want to inspire our Indigenous youth to show them that all things are possible.”

Aurora White
Aurora White took part in the Lac Vieux Desert powwow in early August.

White grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “I have been a part of AISES since I was an undergrad at Michigan Tech. I was the AISES Michigan Tech secretary and then president,” wrote White in a LinkedIn post. “AISES has always made me feel like I belong and have a purpose,” she continued. “I have strived to incorporate my culture/traditions into every aspect of my life, whether it is at home or in the workplace.”

As an undergraduate student at Michigan Tech, White was an active member in the Engineering Ambassadors and Women’s Leadership Council. She studied abroad at the Leibniz University Hannover, Germany, and received internships with GE Aviation Mechanical Engineering; the Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy Program at Iowa State University; and Indian Health Services.

She was also active in outreach activities, presenting at Family Engineering events in Baraga, L’Anse and Detroit with coordinator Joan Chadde, and presenting virtually as part of the Michigan Space Grant Consortium grant project “Native American Women in STEM & Natural Resources’ in spring 2020.

Aurora makes earrings to raise funds for missing and murdered native women.

“It means the world to me when I hear from younger students that I am a role model or someone that they look up to,” said White. “I want to make the 7-year-old me proud that I had big dreams for the future.”

White’s future interest is in automotive electrification, while also promoting Indigenous values into design and the workplace.

Read more

Indigenous Engineer Receives Prestigious Award

Watch

2023 AISES Most Promising Engineer Aurora White

Jeana Collins Named First Recipient of Gary Sparrow Endowed Faculty Fellowship

Jeana Collins, Gary Sparrow Endowed Faculty Fellow

Jeana L. Collins, an associate teaching professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University, has been named the first recipient of the Gary Sparrow Endowed Faculty Fellowship. Collins is recognized for her exceptional teaching and pedagogy.

A gift of $2 million from Gary Sparrow, a Michigan Tech alumnus and retired chemical engineer, funds the new fellowship and also supports the Chemical Engineering Learning Commons. Sparrow grew up in Orchard Park, New York.  He earned his BS in Chemical Engineering at Tech in 1970, and went on to work in chemical processing at several manufacturing companies in Ohio.

“I am honored to be the first recipient of the Gary Sparrow Endowed Faculty Fellowship,” says Collins. “Every interaction I have had with Gary has shown how much he cares about this department and the undergraduate education we provide.”

At Michigan Tech Collins is highly regarded for her student-centric style of teaching. She makes a serious effort to keep the students engaged throughout her lectures. 

“Dr. Collins is an indispensable member of the department,” says Michael Mullins, chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. “She has made a strong, positive impact on the educational experience of our undergraduate students from the moment she set foot in the door.” 

As the Gary Sparrow Endowed Faculty Fellow in Chemical Engineering, Collins will provide leadership in education and scholarly activities at Michigan Tech. Those activities include developing new teaching pedagogies, engaging in publications and presentations at national conferences, and embarking on special projects—including writing her first books. The first of those books will be about the capstone senior design sequence, in collaboration with Chemical Engineering Associate Professor Tony Rogers. The second will focus on her computer-aided problem-solving course. 

Collins assumed the responsibilities as advisor for Michigan Tech’s AIChE Student Chapter, rejuvenating the Chapter with her engaging style, energy, and enthusiasm.

“Dr. Collins recognizes that laboratory courses must be taught differently,” adds Mullins. “An extra layer of complexity is involved in motivating students while they work on teams, either in the UO Lab, or for a capstone senior design project, and this is an area where Dr. Collins truly excels.”

Collins earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2012 and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Tech in 2018, advised by Professor Adrienne Minerick.

Collins first started working the department full-time as a chemical engineering lecturer in 2016. She was promoted to the rank of Associate Teaching Professor in July 2021. She was selected as one of the faculty members for the Dean’s Teaching Showcase in spring 2023.

She currently chairs the Department of Chemical Engineering Curriculum Committee, in addition to serving on its Executive, Computer, and Student Awards committees, and both its Chair and Faculty search committees. Collins also serves as advisor for the Michigan Tech Dance Team,  and is involved with the Consumer Product Manufacturing student Enterprise team.

Read More:

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Jeana Collins

Michigan Tech ranked 12th for Salary Impact by the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse Salary Impact ranking lists schools in order of their impact on graduates’ salaries and how this relates to the cost of attending the college. Michigan Tech was ranked 12th overall, and 2nd among public universities.

Read more here: https://www.wsj.com/rankings/college-rankings/salary-impact-2024


Screen shot from https://www.wsj.com/rankings/college-rankings/salary-impact-2024

Marty Lagina to Deliver First Year Engineering Series Lecture at Michigan Tech on Monday, October 2

“Engineering school teaches you how things work, and also to know what you don’t know,” says Marty Lagina.

Marty Lagina will deliver the First-Year Engineering Series Lecture to Michigan Tech’s incoming engineering majors this Monday, October 2 at 6 pm. The lecture will take place on campus at the Rozsa Center Auditorium.

Lagina is CEO of Heritage Sustainable Energy. He is also a winemaker, and an executive producer of the long-running reality TV show, The Curse of Oak Island, now in its 11th season on the History Channel—and, he is a Michigan Tech engineering alumnus.

The title of Lagina’s lecture is “I’m Not Here to Give You Advice.”

“The First-Year Engineering Series Lecture provides an exciting opportunity for our students to hear from some of the nation’s most innovative engineering leaders,” says Mary Raber, chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. “It gives them a sense of the many different career paths that are open to engineering graduates—career paths that allow them to positively impact the world,” she adds.

Throughout his life, Lagina says his engineering education has given him the confidence to try new things. “I was thinking of going to law school, and my father told me: ‘You would make a better lawyer if you knew how things worked.’ So I went to Michigan Tech to study engineering and I liked it. And it prepared me very well for what turned out to be a very multifaceted career.”

Lagina graduated from Michigan Tech with his mechanical engineering degree in 1977, then took a job as a petroleum engineer for Amoco. Then, a few years later while attending law school at the University of Michigan, he worked as an independent petroleum engineer consultant, hired by various Michigan corporations regarding petroleum exploration and production.

“I was a law student, putting together oil deals, working out of a room the size of a walk-in closet,” Lagina recalls. “We drilled 14 dry holes in a row until we finally drilled a decent oil well. It put us in business.”

Lagina’s partner in that first consulting business was Craig Tester, another Michigan Tech mechanical engineering alumnus. They were former college roommates. Once Lagina earned his JD, the two founded Terra Energy to pioneer the exploration and development of the Antrim shale natural gas resources of Michigan, which they did—successfully developing over $3 billion of oil and natural gas resources.

“My education at Michigan Tech is what gives me the confidence for innovation.”

Marty Lagina

When he turned 40, Lagina decided to change course. He formed Heritage Sustainable Energy, a renewable energy provider. Heritage has successfully developed a series of wind and solar projects in Michigan, which in the aggregate, can power the equivalent of 57,000 average Michigan homes.

Heritage Sustainable Energy’s projects include 84 Wind Turbines and 6 Solar PV Array facilities, all in Michigan. And sheep!

In 2006, Lagina started doing some unusual exploring to solve a 228 year old mystery. Featured on the History Channel, Lagina, his family and friends attempt to solve “The Curse of Oak Island,” based on the long, complicated history of treasure hunting on a Nova Scotia island.

It turned out to be a VERY difficult engineering project.

Part National Treasure, part Indiana Jones, the hit docu-series, now in its 11th season, follows their exploits as they attempt to—literally—get to the bottom of the ‘money pit’ on the island that has given up some clues, booby traps, bizarre hints and puzzle pieces. Theories of what is buried include treasures from Solomon’s temple, the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar and numerous other sources.

First, they had to purchase a controlling interest in the North Atlantic island. “And everything is difficult,” Lagina says. “There have been shafts and tunnels installed by previous searchers for 200-plus years, so you need to figure out if you are discovering something from the original works or not.”

Tester, an expert on drilling, resistivity, and more, also appears on The Curse of Oak Island.

Pictured above: Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 1931. Format: glass plate negative.

Born in Kingsford on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Lagina has spent nearly all his life living in Michigan. His background is in engineering and the energy business, but with family ties to one of Italy’s premier winegrowing areas, a passion for wine is in his blood.

He founded Mari Vineyards in 1999 (the same year he was inducted into Michigan Tech’s ME-EM Academy). His goal: to make world-class red wines in northern Michigan but with a nod to the Italian style of his ancestors.

The winery’s namesake is Lagina’s Grandmother (Nonna), an Italian immigrant who settled in the Iron Mountain area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Lagina has fond memories of her fermenting wine in the basement of her home.

Mari Vineyards is situated on 60 acres in Traverse City. The winery is largely carbon neutral and built from UP dolomite stone, dug from the bases of wind turbines. “Winemaking is an art, but it’s also highly technical,” he adds.

Read about the extensive and innovative sustainability practices at Mari Vineyards.

“Engineering school teaches you how things work, and also to know what you don’t know,” says Lagina.

When choosing to go forward with a new venture Lagina makes sure it meets all of these criteria: “It must be interesting; look like there could be some fun; must be legal and ethical; needs to have a good chance to make money AND (bonus points awarded) if it provides extra benefits for society.”

“It must be interesting; look like there could be some fun; must be legal and ethical; needs to have a good chance to make money AND (bonus points awarded) if it provides extra benefits for society.”

Marty Lagina’s criteria when choosing to go forward with a new venture.

New Faculty Spotlight: Rachel Store

Rachel Store

Rachel Store recently joined the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) as an assistant teaching professor. She earned her BS and MS at Michigan Tech, both in Mechanical Engineering.

What first drew you to Michigan Tech?

It all started when I was in high school. My parents moved back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula after a 25-year military career. They were living in Escanaba. I knew I wanted to study engineering; I wanted to play varsity soccer; and I wanted to be close enough to my family that I could see them within a day. Michigan Tech was honestly the only school that fit that bill—so it was an easy decision. It was also the only campus I visited. But I fell in love with Tech. So much so, that after I finished my undergrad, I went for a victory lap masters degree—Tech has a fantastic accelerated masters program! And I loved the campus, the community, and the Keweenaw. Houghton truly is a special place.

After graduating with my Master’s degree, I got a job in Milwaukee. I still found myself coming back to Houghton several times a month to see my boyfriend. He’s really what brought me back to Houghton. As soon as I could, I started looking for jobs back in the Houghton area (spoiler, we’ve been married for four years and are blessed with two wonderful children).  

I was delighted when I found work back at Michigan Tech, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. I actually had several offers from local companies that I passed on because I wanted to be part of the Tech community again. I was in the ME-EM Department for 5 years. Now, I am super excited to move into a more student-focused position in the MMET Department.

“Get out and talk to people. Talk to your classmates, talk to your professors, talk to the locals.  The best thing about Houghton and MTU are the people.”

Advice to incoming students, from Rachel Store.

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your teaching, research, and outreach?

My background in industry was manufacturing and quality. I really enjoy teaching the topics where you go from a design or theory into making something physical, for example, a product or a lab sample. I enjoy additive manufacturing and especially forming processes. My research right now is focused on materials manufacturing with friction stir processing. I am working with Dr. Scott Wagner (MMET) and Dr. Vinh Nguyen (ME-EM) on a project right now. I am hoping to earn a PhD in a few years. In the meantime, I want to continue to develop as a teacher.

What do you hope to accomplish, as an educator and as a researcher, over the next few years?

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about teaching—how to teach, why it matters, and how I can help make my students the best future employees that they can be.  A lot of students see the class, the grade, the degree as an end goal. But really those are just the starting points for the rest of their lives. This is my first year in a full-time instructor role, so I know I still have a lot to learn myself.

Aerial view of the Black Creek Nature Sanctuary. Credit: visitkeweenaw.com

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Fun question!  I have two and a half year old twins, so spare time at my house is more like ‘how do I multi-task!’ We live just south of Chassell on a little hobby farm (I’m a bit of a crazy chicken lady). And now my kids are starting to pick that up too. They love collecting the eggs with me, or going to the garden and looking for vegetables. We do a lot of stuff on our property—apple cider, maple syrup, gardening, foraging.

I also really enjoy being creative. I quilt and make soap, or sometimes I like to bring that creativity to the kitchen and cook fun meals. I am always excited for a welding, construction, or repair project. And I love the outdoors. That includes hunting, camping, kayaking, snow sports, and hiking (or snowshoeing!) especially.  

“I need a quota of ‘tree time’ as I call it every week, and the Keweenaw is such a great place to soak it in!”

Rachel Store

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?

The Princess Bride and Finding Nemo are two movies that come to mind. I like the stories about doing whatever it takes for someone that you love.    

Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

Anywhere on Lake Superior, but I am partial to the Black Creek Trail. It’s where my husband and I met. I also really love the Gratiot River Park. I think is so cool how the mouth of the Gratiot River changes every year depending on how the ice and snow was that winter.  

Any advice for incoming students?

Get out and talk to people. Talk to your classmates, talk to your professors, talk to the locals.  The best thing about Houghton and MTU are the people. It is such a rich community. Also, get out and play in the snow. I always tell people new to the area and snow that you have to find ways to play in the snow. 

“The winters are long. And they can be hard. But if you don’t find ways to seek joy in the snow, you have the same amount of snow and much less joy!”

Rachel Store